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Thread: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I’ve always been fascinated by coffee. *A dark little unpalatable brew whose *wonderful aroma promise much to the senses– but delivers acerbic disappointment to the palate. * Kinda like smelling pipe tobacco. *But plunge a teaspoonful of sugar into it, and everything changes. An entire, global institution has sprung up over sitting down and having a coffee – the world’s most internationally traded commodity. I love it.

    Maybe there’s a defective gene in my taste buds… but I find espresso without sugar totally undrinkable. Reviewers talking about sweetness speak a foreign tongue to me. The words sweet and coffee don’t appear in my vocabulary unless conjugated by the word sugar. Anyway, that’s me.

    What’s everyone else like?

    Do you too find espressos bitterly undrinkable but totally transformed by sugar? And how much of the white poison does it take to achieve that *metamorphose? *Or are you hairy-chested and drink it straight while finding the same pleasure as we sweet-tooths? *

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    I tend to agree with you Robusto.
    The caveat being Im only new to drinking straight espresso, and I still drink predominantly milk based drinks. Mostly piccolos and flat whites. I have been drinking more and more espresso at home trying to discern differences in blends and roast levels et al.
    I keep getting told by those who should know that a well made shot of espresso should have natural sweetness ie caramelised sugars from the roasted bean. When Ive asked these same people to make me a shot of this sweet sweet espresso Ive received a wide variety of tastes but only in a very few could I taste anything that resembled what I know as sweetness. Of the shots Ive had that presented some sweetness, it seemed to be kind raisin or fruitcake sort of sensation but always in the background, with a bitterness predominating.
    If I add about half a teaspoon of sugar then even average shots go down a lot more easily. Im not sure why, but I feel guilty for adding sugar to espresso. Its kind of like Im having a shandy... :-[
    During a barista competition I was watching the competitors described their cappuccinos as traditional. That meant no chocolate powder because the natural sweetness of the espresso and milk (lactose) negated it.
    I think that there is sweetness to be found in espresso, but only when the shot has been well constructed and if your palate is used to the type of sweetness that espresso exhibits. I read a lot of wine reviews and much of the time I wonder if Im ever going to find half of what is described.


    Stephen still looking for blueberries Frame

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Well guys, I have to go in and bat for the other camp.

    Double shots, no sugar or milk is my method for ingestion of the bean soup.

    About ten years ago I was disillusioned with the “chunky out of date” workplace milk and even chunkier sugar and was drinking “supermarket brick” plunger without milk or sugar while at work.

    The transition to double espressos at work and home was an easy path from there and the more recent move to home roasted fresh beans means that I could never go back!

    As far as perceived sweetness goes I believe it is more a case of “less bitterness” for most people while sipping a fresh roast espresso through a great crema layer effectively coats your tongue with a similar to sweet sensation.

    I have had a saying for many years now…
    “I only have milk and sugar in bad coffee”

    Don’t get me wrong, I like sugar and will always love my milk, just keep them away from my espresso. ;)

    Historically Aussies come from a tea, sugar and milk heritage (what your grandmother drinks) and sometime in the last 50 odd “baby-boomer” years there was a move to instant coffee (with milk and sugar). In the last 30 years there has been a trend towards espresso starting with percolated in the 70’s, drip filter in the 80’s and plunger in the 90’s.
    Now we are in the 00’s and we are starting to see home espresso machines in every junk-mail and in every kitchen section of department stores.

    Methods and tastes do change over time, I know mine have. ::)

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    I must admit that while I enjoy a straight espresso on occassion my favorite drink is espresso with microfoamed whole milk (a bit stiffer than ideal for latte art) with just a touch of sugar. Hhhmmm....NUMMY! :D :D :D

    Java "Loves his foam" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Im with Andy, I almost solely drink straight doubles. Ill have the very, very occasional long black if I want to be a little more sociable and take my time drinking with friends.

    I find that if my espresso is too bitter I try to fix my current blend, or my extraction technique rather than adding sugar.

    For all that, espresso is just a drink, drink it how you enjoy it most.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    I think you are describing a cappuccino Javaphile. ;)

    Espresso is a bit like red wine or good scotch in that it may take some time to develop a taste for it.

    Some coffees will be sweeter by their nature such as Brazilian and Columbian. That doesnt mean it will taste like it is rich with honey.

    I find that if you have a bit of a sweet tooth you will usually find espresso without sugar is overwhelmed by the other taste characteristics which you may find unpleasant.

    There is no penalty for having sugar in your coffee just as there is no penalty for having a milk based coffee in the afternoon, even if the Italian purest turn their noses up.

    I hardly ever use the word bitter to describe my home roasts. When the coffee has more bite it is because I have roasted a single origin like Kenyan which has this characteristic.

    Bottom line with adding things to coffee is if it tastes good - drink it.

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    Senior Member chopinhauer's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Ill add my 2 penniess worth here. I only drink piccolo lattes (cafe macchiato alto) never full lattes. cappuccini, or espressos, and never with sugar. My pavoni, when it behaves properly (lets say one in 3 shots, low success rate I know) produces a reddish, marbly coloured brew that looks and tastes like heaven. These piccolos are really intense, and, yes, sweet and caramely.

    The trouble with my machine (and probably its operator as well) is the one in three success rate. Often my piccolos are too bitter. Thats why Im currently in the hunt for a machine, probabaly a Silvia, that can deliver the god shot more often.

    But my point is that the god shot, in the context of a piccolo (with about 11-12 grams of coffee in it, the pavoni double basket is a small affair) can be very sweet and, yes, very complex as well. The milk, if it is well done, and very micofoamed, does not have to reduce the complexity of the flavour too much.

    But I do admit, it is obvious, pure espresso, is the most complex and therefore refined drink of all. It is just that my palette, and probably my stomach as well, cant really handle it. But Im happy in piccolo land, and always trying to improve the intensity, complexity and sweetness of my shots.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Quote Originally Posted by Wired link=1115516893/0#5 date=1115608394
    I think you are describing a cappuccino Javaphile. ;)
    Wired,

    Kinda, sorta, not really. Understand? ;D ;D ;D

    A cappuccino is a drink of 3s. It has 3 parts in equal proportions. Espresso, steamed milk, and froth.

    With my concoction I use 1 part espresso to 3 parts microfoam, with the microfoam taken to the point to where it floats (rather than sinking and then rising) too much for proper latte art but is still easily pourable. When completely settled a few minutes later (if it lasts that long!) this results in about 40-45% liquid and 55-60% foam.

    With the microfoam taken to this texture I find that it mixes with the espresso very nicely with several distinct flavor zones in the resulting drink.

    When I make this drink I sprinkle the sugar on top of the crema, add 2 parts of microfoam, give it a couple of quick stirs, and then do a hard pour of the last 1 part of microfoam. The initial addition and stirring of the microfoam virtually suspends the espresso and creama in the microfoam (hence why a slightly stiffer foam is needed) with varying intensity if you dont over stir. The hard pour of the last part of microfoam allows some of it to just slightly mix with the other part where if done right you end up with some very dense crema/sugar bands around the pure microfoam in the cup.

    When drunk you have 3 distinctly different yet very complementary flavors. The taste of the pure microfoam, the taste of the bands of condensed crema/sugar around the edges of the pure foam, and the taste of the velvety smooth and slightly sweet espresso foam. This of course presumes that you drink it before it sits so long everything seperates out and it becomes basicly a cappuccino with a tall head. ;D ;D

    I dont know if this is a recognised drink or has a name, but I do know it is pure heaven to drink. :D :D :D :D

    Java "Off to get a bit more wired" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    For anyone looking at trying to bring out various flavours, or diagnose certain problems in their espresso, the "Diagnosing the Taste and Appearance of an Extraction" section of Jim Schulmans home barista guide found here: http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-guide.html is well worth a read. In fact the whole thing is well worth a read if you have some spare time.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    When I do milk based drinks I steam the milk a little slower than typical to get more thickening and less volume. The result is milk that when poured into the coffee, is fairly dense through to the bottom of the cup rather than separating. The higher density of the milk tends to intensify the coffee flavour and the milk tastes a lot sweeter than cold milk.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1115516893/0#0 date=1115516893
    I’ve always been fascinated by coffee. A dark little unpalatable brew whose wonderful aroma promise much to the senses– but delivers acerbic disappointment to the palate. Kinda like smelling pipe tobacco. But plunge a teaspoonful of sugar into it, and everything changes.
    Robusto, you paint a very similar picture to my first journey into the world of espresso. I had always drunk tea, long blacks and plunger coffee without sugar so thats the way I tackled espresso. I persisted for a while because I thought that was the way it was done and I would develop the taste. Then one day a guy who had been assisting me almost as a coach suggested I do as the Italians do and sweeten it. Worked a treat and I have done it ever since. I vary the amount I add in accordance with the quality of what I am drinking.

    There might be a parallel in here about wine and drinking temperature - the lower the quality (i.e. for white wine) the colder you need to drink it to make it palatable.

    The exception to my usual practise is when I am assessing coffees and tasting comparatively. In these instances I split a double into 2, and sweeten one. Then I move across the lineup tasting and comparing the unsweetened ones before repeating this with the sweetened versions. In another wine parallel, sweetness fills out the middle palate. Just a little might be all you require to bring the flavours forward without making the drink obviously sweet. You can of course go completely overboard and produce coffee flavoured sugar syrup but most people end up somewhere in the middle. If it tastes better with the addition of a little sugar thats fine. Dont let anyone try to convince you that you are not getting it, or are missing out in some way because you keep the sugar spoon handy.

    Cheers,

    Graeme


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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Hey All!

    Hmm....Reading this thread about 30mins inspiried me to go downstairs and use up the remaining Indian Rattangiri (spelling?) I had in the pantry.....

    Brewed up an o.k. shot (Still learing with the Diadema... 8)) a little bit fast (16sec) in the single basket, but reasonable.

    Deliberately did not add my usual 2 tsps of sugar...Put the glass to my lips an sipped......YUK!

    Added a single tsp of sugar......ahhhhhh :P. - Note to self - cut down on the sugar or you will die early >:( 1 tsp does the job nicely!

    Now, I am traditionally a heavy sugar adder if such a phrase exists; but had no hope of drinking that shot as it stood.

    The above said, I now put the challenge to the superior skills of Chris (2muchcoffeeman) on Sat morning to make me two espressi, I will drink one as it stands and one the way I usually go - 1-2 sugars.....

    My theory is that I am still far too new to the world of espresso to produce an above average shot. That combined with a new E-61 machine clearly displaying L Plates does not allow me to make a judgement on whether sugar is required or not!

    So look forward to meeting all who attend on Sat morning and trying an espresso without sugar :o

    Regards,

    James

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Good thought James... line up those shots 2muchcoffeeman ;D

    The other variable that hasn’t been mentioned in this mini debate is “what do you have with coffee”…. Does dunking some biscotti in your espresso count as sweetening it? How about chocolate or cake on the side?
    I cannot ever picture my grandmother without a “bickie” with her cup of tea.

    Maybe some of us are sweetening in the mouth and not the cup!

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Like the sponge kept by the coffee machinery, I have soaked up the eclectic responses. Its obvious no-one in their right mind (make that palate) would deliberately drink an espresso let alone wax lyrically about it unless it did provide much pleasure, with or without sugar.

    Out of respect and sheer envy for the "bittertooths" I then tried...and tried...to drink the brew unsweetened. I searched for the sweetness or dimished bitterness and whatever qualities you bittertooths relish. But sadly, to no avail. All I can say is, I envy you for the sophistication of palates which discern the complexities.
    I was brought up on the sugared type since early childhood and the decades since. Those made in Italian, pressurised cafettera stove top coffee makers. Until a year ago--pre Silvia and its cheaper predecessor-- that product defined an espresso as drunk by me, family, friends et al. Anyone familiar with those coffees would know they MUST be made bearable with a teaspoon of sugar because of the bitter over-extraction caused by super-heated steam. I suppose the habit carried over into the present. But there is one large step forward... on the occasional times I have a cappucino or latte, I no longer add sugar, nor have the desire nor need to do so. Who know? Lattes today.... espressos next.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Changing the taste buds takes quite awhile....
    I used to have at LEAST 1-2 sugars in any coffee or tea.
    Then I decided to reduce my sugar intake to 0, I found I was unable to drink the tea or coffee :-X . I very slowly reduced the amount of sugar in tea and coffee, now I have no sugar in either, unless the coffee is really bad bad... but no I think I am not going to drink that muck! This process took ages(months), try reducing by 1/4 tsp increments, you will know when you no longer need sugar because the coffee will taste way too sweet! esp Sprite :-X, I would also recommend an initial change to raw or demera sugar if you are not already using it, as it adds a caramel note and is not nearly as sweet as white sugar.

    But no longer needing sugar in a latte is a big step fwd, well done :)

    clarexican

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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Sophistication of palates Robusto?
    Might be years of abuse on the tastebuds too! ;D
    (errr... I love chilli) ;D

    I wonder if Guniness (or stout) drinkers add sugar to their coffee. Maybe like the Irish beer it is an aquired taste developed over time?

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isntw

    I prefer to take my coffees black and without sugar. While it is entirely a subjective matter, here are my 2 cents worth:

    Coffee is one of the most complex food substances known to man. Apparently over 2,000 distinct substances have been identified in the green arabica bean. Out of these, 700-850 may contribute to the flavour of roasted coffee. Apparently wine has far fewer flavour-influencing constituents.*

    Taking this into account, as well as my subjective experiences with fine coffee, I think that the case for drinking coffee "unenhanced" (or perhaps "undiminished") is strong.

    I have different views on sugar and milk.

    The natural sweetness of coffee has a completely different character to sugar. Sugar, in my opinion is a mono-dimensional sweetening agent. I think that sugar destroys the natural balance of a fine coffee, and makes it virtually impossible to detect the natural sweetness of coffee. But milk is another matter...

    Would you make sangria out of fine wine? I wouldnt. For the same reason I would not add milk to fine coffee. Bad coffee on the other hand - I would use the "Andy Principle" :)

    While sugar may destroy the natural balance of coffee, milk completely obliterates all subtlety and nuance. I dont think that I could pick the difference b/w an average coffee and a fine one after the addition of milk. But perhaps thats a limitation of my palate.

    Sorry, I think that I just got carried away there :) I had intended to write a more balanced and PC post, but my personal views got in the way. I certainly dont wish to be prescriptive, merely honest. Ultimately its all about the personal experience of taste, and you should do what pleases you.

    * Source: "Home Coffee Roasting" by Ken Davids

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    my experience is that my taste buds have developed. A year ago, i could drink espresso without sugar, but if you saw the look on my face, youd laugh at me trying to hide a grimace.

    Now, i drink double flat whites in the morning (coz a double ristretto just seems too harsh for my tummy that early in the day) - double because if i make it single, i can only taste milk.

    I drink ristrettos for the rest of the day - usually double, but sometimes single, and if i add sugar, all i can taste is sugar (which at some cafes, is a good thing!).

    The milk and/or sugar thing was necessary a year ago, but now, i find them so overwhelming to my tastebuds, that all coffee flavours are kinda blocked by them.

    So yeah, tastebuds change.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Also some of us drink for the liquid as well as the taste and as such drinking just espressos all day long would be a bit dangerous. ;D ;D ;D ;D

    I actually go through quite a range of espresso based drinks around here as when I want the full flavor or Im testing a new bean or roast Ill drink straight espressos. Through-out the day I tend to mix my drinks so as to keep a nice variety and also to keep my tastebuds from desensetizing to all the nuances in a cup which Ive found happens if I drink just straight espressos. So partially to prevent this from happening as well as to increase my liquid, and just because I enjoy variety I will constantly make a different drink through-out the day usually according to what my tastebuds are crying out for as I start my routine for pulling a shot. :D :D :D

    Something else to keep in mind is that a sweetner or milk added to espresso can bring out flavors previously undetected or under-represented in a straight-up cup. Adding things to an espresso doesnt ruin it any more than putting seasonings on a steak on the BBQ ruins the steak. Assumming of course that one doesnt take it too extremes. 8)

    Java "What shall I make next" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Well, I cant handle espresso without sugar, just too bitter for my taste. I mean there is over 100mg of caffeine in there aside from all the other 2000 constituent and caffeine is one bitter alkaloid.

    So there you go Im not a real man!

    I like espressos most of the time but the Silvia makes such nice cappuccinos I cant help drinking them too. I agree though that milk kills the subtle flavours.

    Grant

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Quote Originally Posted by wattgn link=1115516893/15#19 date=1117447939
    ...I mean there is over 100mg of caffeine in there...
    Hhhmmmm...Unless youre using Robusta beans in your espresso blend the caffine content should be around 40mg for a single.

    Java "Espresso, its not just a drug, its a lifestyle" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Javaphile:

    I took a rest from the caffeine after two really bad night sleeps.

    Mind you I think I was overdoing the espresso thing and drinking lots of cups of black tea at work as well. I had a cappucino last night at 7pm and the night before, my latest fix was at about the same time.

    Grant

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Of course that 40mg is assuming the single made from the standard measure of 7g of coffee, which it seems very few of us actually use. :D

    Java "The cure is to drink it all day, every day. That way having a cup before bed isnt a problem!" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Javaphile

    faaaarrrk. I thought you might just say that.

    If I follow your advice and then go mad with an automatic weapon, can I sue you?

    :)

    Grant

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Wattgn

    No, but you could probably get a job at the Post Office! 8)

    Java "Now where did I put that vest..." phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    A standard shot of espresso has around 100mg of caffeine. The actual amount varies depending on variety of bean and robusta can have up to twice as much so a blend will vary.

    I imagine the content could be tweaked a little based on water temperature.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Quote Originally Posted by Wired link=1115516893/15#25 date=1117583699
    A standard shot of espresso has around 100mg of caffeine. The actual amount varies depending on variety of bean and robusta can have up to twice as much so a blend will vary.

    I imagine the content could be tweaked a little based on water temperature.
    If you dont mind my asking what is the source for this information? The 100mg/shot figure is higher than anything I saw a while back when I was researching this very question. I saw figures anywhere from a low of 30mg/shot up too 85mg/shot with most being in the 40-50mg/shot range.

    In my research I did see comments that the numbers given were from tests done in the US, Canada, and Europe with some areas of Europe having a higher caffine content due to their usage of robusta beans in their espresso blends.

    There seems to be a lot of contradictory information out there, maybe its time to do a caffine extraction and answer the question for myself, at least for the beans Im using.

    Java "Digging the glassware out" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    There are tons of references out there, most of which are in general agreement. Here are a couple of specific ones:

    http://coffeefaq.com/caffaq.html#HowMuchCaff
    http://www.psychiatry.ufl.edu/aec/re...bpcaffiene.pdf

    The only site Ive found that says 40 mg is the Mayo Clinic web site which cites the American Dietetic Association as their source, which is interesting as the ADA web site quotes numbers in line with 100 mg: http://www.eatright.org/Public/Nutri...ndex_19636.cfm.

    The most pertinent thing to note is that any quoted number is at best an average.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Aaahhh...the plot thickens. :D

    I dont see anything on that 3rd link about caffine content, other than a generic comment that the recommended level of 200-300mg/day equals about 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Which most likely is referring to brewed coffee and not espresso.

    The first link is using figures from a 1979 (Bunker and McWilliams in J. Am. Diet. 74:28-32, 1979) study. An era where single varietals were virtually unheard of, and where robusta was used in everything.

    In the 2nd link Im not familiar with some of the brands tested, but some of the brands listed there have robusta in their blends. Plus if you look at the volume numbers youll see that many of them are doubles or even, in one case, quadruple shots. Yet theyre only being counted as a single or a double. I suspect that most of these studies are using what has become the american cafes standard single shot which is actually a double (on the 2nd link they state that they are doing the test using the same amounts as are used in the stores) instead of using the classic definitions as we are wont to do here.

    I wish more sites would spell out the conditions of the test, such as how much coffee was used. That would tell us a lot. In all my digging I only came accross one site (Im trying to dig it up for you) where they spelled out their technique and they in fact used 7g of coffee with a 1oz extraction, a classical single shot. They listed the caffine content as being 40mg in a pure arabica blend with blends (notably ones from Southern Italy as I recall) being higher as they contained robusta beans.

    Part of the reason I distrust the 100mg/shot figure so much is that with the types of coffees we are drinking it is physically impossible (with a few exceptions) to have 100mg of caffine per shot using 7g of beans. In order to get 100mg of caffine from 7g of beans the coffee must have a minimum caffine content of 1.43%. If you look at the chart farther down the page on that first link you posted youll see that very few arabica varietals have any where near that high a caffine content. :)

    Java "Who says Ive had too much caffine? <said from a foot off the floor>" phile

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Well after an exhaustive search of many hundreds of pages Ive yet to find the actual FDA study that so many pages are quoting for their 40mg/shot figures. (This perturbs me as I was able to find it a couple years ago. Thank you George Bush for closing down so many of the federal pages. Ggggrrrrrrrrr........) I have found a copy of the source article (originally published by the FDA in the Dec 1987/Jan 1988 issue of the FDA Consumer) but it didnt include the charts from the original article which is where the figures came from.

    In all my searching I have come accross only a few references for the source of the caffeine contents listed.

    In the 40mg/shot camp there seems to be 6 sources quoted, only some of which I can find information on where they got their figures from:

    • Mayo Clinics 2003 study (This is possibly based on the information from the American Dietetic Association shown below as on at least one page on the Mayo site it is attributed.)
    • US FDA (Appears to trace back to a chart in the following article: FDA Consumer, December 1987/January 1988 CAFFEINE JITTERS: Some Safety Questions Remain. Ive yet to find a copy of this report so the original source study is unknown.)
    • Swiss equivalent to the US FDA study (Appears to trace back too S. Papadopoulos (1993) Nutrition & Food Sciences 1, 28-33.)
    • International Food Information Council (no source given on the IFICs site so they could be using one of the other studies as their source)
    • American Dietetic Association (Traces back to J.J. Barone, H.R. Roberts (1996) "Caffeine Consumption." Food Chemistry and Toxicology, vol. 34, pp. 119-129. It is unclear when the research was done.)
    • National Soft Drink Association now known as the American Beverage Association (the page giving the info on espresso was apparently not included on the new site so the source of their information could not be determined and they could be using one of the other studies as their source)


    On *all of the pages giving 100mg/shot if they give a source it traces back to the Bunker and McWilliams 1979 study where they give the quantity as 2oz, which would give us a 50mg/shot quantity in a classical 1oz/30ml shot.

    I found it interesting that Starbucks doesnt list the caffeine content in their nutrition section, but if you contact them direct they claim theres only 35mg of caffeine in their 30ml espresso.

    With all this in mind if I had to say which figure I agree with itd have to be the 40mg of caffeine in a single (30ml) shot. With the 100mg/shot figure coming from tests that are now 26 years old and from a whole different era of coffee than we are now in it is very suspect as to its current accuracy not to mention that the figure appears to be based on a double rather than a single shot. On the other hand the 40mg/shot figures are from more current studies and are for a single (1oz/30ml) shot.

    Another interesting tidbit I ran accross in the search was that while brewed coffee contains 100% of the caffeine in the beans, espresso only extracts 65% of the beans caffeine due to the brief time the water is in contact with the coffee. One more nail in the 100mg/shot camps coffin. Doing the math (using an avgerage value for arabica varietals) gives us a caffeine content in our cup of 50mg per 7g of coffee used. Once again reinforcing the believability of the 40mg/shot studies over the 100mg/shot one.

    Id love to see any other references anybody knows about on this perplexing question as it has bothered me for years. For being the most researched food additive in the US there sure seems to be a darth of information on the subject. >:(

    Hhhmmm.....digging out the labware and doing my own tests is looking more and more appealing, like I needed yet one *more thing to do!

    Java "Wants to *know!" phile

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Very impressed, very well researched Javaphile. The internet is of course a great research tool but one must be selective about its vast contents. On the strength of your prolific research I am doubling my daily shots with impunity knowing I will be under what I mistakenly thought I was @ 100 mg.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Thanks for the compliment Robusto. I do like to get my information straight and when the info bug bites Ive been known to go to some pretty extreme lengths in order to stuff it back into its box. ;D

    Thank heaven for the internet! 15 years ago it would have taken me many days of digging in multiple librarys to find what the net handed to me in my own home in a single day of digging.

    I have noticed however that a LOT of the information that used to be available on the web from the Federal government has dissapeared in the last couple of years due to Bushs policy of not putting anything on the net that might be useful in any way to the big bad terrorists. Somewhere in my waunderings I saw a claim that less than a third of the federal pages that were available pre 9/11 are still on-line. Including a lot of basic research, which makes researching something a lot tougher than it was just a couple years ago. The Feds were an awesome source of information which has unfortunately been drasticly reduced by Dubya and his Cronies. :(

    This has even moved into the private sector in a big way with many schools being forced by the Feds to remove a lot of their research papers from the Web. With the anti-terrorist laws that were pushed through the Feds can now force the removal of virtually any page from the net by saying it contains information that may be useful to a terrorist. As a private non-government affiliated person/site you can fight the order in court, but if a single government penny funded the research they have the final say as to whether it can be published (on the net or any other way) and there is no appeal possible to the courts as in the fine print of the funding contract you give that power to them. This has led to some pretty major headaches for researchers who *must publish their research such as graduate students who are required to have it published in order to get their degree.

    Java "Researcher at Large" phile

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Always suspected caffeine was a Weapon of Mass Destruction in the war on terror. Better hide the research manuals from Bin Laden, Alzarqawi et al. Can you imagine what wholesale destruction could be wreaked if terrorists got hold of the fact that a shot of espresso contained 40 gms of caffeine. I shudder to think.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeman link=1115516893/15#15 date=1115732975
    I wonder if Guniness (or stout) drinkers add sugar to their coffee. *Maybe like the Irish beer it is an aquired taste developed over time?
    I drink Guinness, Indian Tonic Water, dont mind grape fruit, but I still cannot drink espresso without sugar.
    Go, figure!

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Ill only drink one out of every, say, 10 shots made on my machine without sugar. They are that variable (even with PID temperature control :-/ ) . Ive also found a couple of places that make a decent espresso that can be had without sugar. Ive enen had one shot from my machine that was so good that I had to drink it straight up, rather than use it in a cappuccino. To me, this means that the holy grail of espresso drinkers is finding sufficient consistency in the preparation to make those special shots repeatable. The quest continues.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    I add sugar depending on the bean that I have roasted. Some beans, such as Bali Gunung Agung have a natural sweetnes that if roasted correctly just need some steamed milk and no sugar as the natural sweetness of the bean is enhanced by the milk.

    Others are more bitter in natural flavours so need a little sugar to smooth everything out (for me).

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    I never add sugar to espresso. Seems to upset the taste balance.

    Interestingly, in experimenting with temperature a la the
    recent "red crema" thread, I did get some shots that were
    very sweet, almost as if sugar had been added. So I had
    to back off at that point :) Unfortunately cant remember
    which bean it was.

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    Espresso "Sweetness"

    Hi Guys,

    I really enjoy making and drinking short black and have been doing so for the last few years, however, my pallet for espresso apretiation is far from refined. I have been brewing using fresh (3-10 days) jindebah coffees firstly on my breville 800es and now my sunbeam 6910. On my sunbeam i am regually getting 30-40 second pours...

    The fact is that i need to add about 1/4 teaspoon of white sugar to a shot of my coffe so that to me it tastes "balanced" . Does this mean my espresso is not sweet? I find that differnt pours and different coffees somtimes require difrent amount of sugar to achieve the same balanced flavour. Do the espresso experts on this site enjoy their "Sweet" short blacks with or without added sugar?

    Another point i have recently discovered is that a luke warm rather than hot pre heated glass will result in a much sweeter tasting shot with more body. I guess the serving temperature of the coffe changes the way sweetness , bitterness and body is percieved.

    I would love to hear some opinions from other espresso lovers....

    Thanks

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    Re: Espresso "Sweetness"

    I think that by "sweeteness" people often mean a shot that is low in bitterness and sourness. I have had a few shots that were sweet in the sugary sense, but I dont think that they are a common occurrence.

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    Re: Espresso "Sweetness"

    Im with Luca on that one, I remember reading somewhere that the sweetness of an espresso is not the same sweetness you get from adding sugar.

    I have had 1 or 2 espressos that appeared to be slightly sugary sweet but thats about all.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt


    I made a shot the other day that had definite fruity sweetness. Ive never had sweetness from these beans before. I think its a fine line between getting to the sweet zone and missing it all together. Ill be experimetning with this in the coming weeks, because I do have a sweet tooth.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky link=1115516893/30#34 date=1120694913
    Ill only drink one out of every, say, 10 shots made on my machine without sugar. They are that variable (even with PID temperature control :-/ ) . Ive enen had one shot from my machine that was so good that I had to drink it straight up, rather than use it in a cappuccino. To me, this means that the holy grail of espresso drinkers is finding sufficient consistency in the preparation to make those special shots repeatable. The quest continues.
    Tend to agree. My theory is that if a shot is pulled perfectly it shouldnt need sugar. However such shots are rare in most peoples experience including mine :-[ Hence the majority add sugar to straight espresso.

    Ive also found a couple of places that make a decent espresso that can be had without sugar.
    Where are these extremely rare and precious establishments you mention to be found Sparky?

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Places Ive been:

    In Brisbane, Naked Coffee in the Elizabeth Arcade in the city. They use Campos Superior blend and do a very fine job of it.

    In Sydney, both Campos in Newtown and Mecca on the corner of King and York. I prefer Campos to Mecca, but the guys at Mecca do a great job with the beans they have.

    (BTW: If you go to these places youll get red crema)

    Places by reputation:

    In Melbourne Id be heading to St Ali, The Maling room or First Pour. I have a friend who was blown away by the espresso at St Ali and Ive tried their espresso blend and its damn nice. (Note: the Melbourne venues are by reputation only as I have yet to test them)

    In Perth try Epic Espresso. A colleague from WA who frequents Epic came over to visit and I took him to Naked Coffee and he rated it similar to Epic. Hes also an AASCA accredited judge for barista competitions, so has a reasonable palate.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Hmm ... interesting development ...

    I roasted up some red sea blend a week ago. Unfortunately, I ended up stopping the roast just a smidge too early, forgetting that with the incredible amount of chaff on it it is best to roast until theres a fair bit of smoke on the roaster at work. The results were still good, but not as good as they should be. Feeling somewhat disappointed, I decided to test out Jim Schulmans theory that low dose + light roast = yum. Well, boy was he right! Dropping my dose right down really brought out the sweetness; it was as though I had added a small amount of sugar. It is still a bit too bright, though.

    Cheers,

    Luca


  45. #45
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Funnily enough, the other day, Hazel gave me one of her blends that my wife doesnt like as much because it not mild enough for her, and told me I should try underdosing it to take away the sharpness my wife notices.

    It seems to work.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt


    Luca, nice article. Thats an interesting way to go... down dosing.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    This is such a quality thread!... Luca... interesting.. will give this a go...

  48. #48
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Its head-spinning stuff. I can see why people may well look at their watch and exclaim : "Geez, is that the time?" and fly off when we snobs start explaining that coffee aint coffee, the intricacies of dosing and timing the extraction.

    If only it were so simple as pouring hot water -- of any temperature -- over some grinds -- of any age and fineness.

    --Robusto

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Well Ive got to try the down dosing - its the reverse to what Ive been doing, but having read that article - sounds like the way to go.

    Thanks for the info Luca.... will let you know how I go.

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    Re: Espresso. How sweet it is -- or isnt

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Down Dosing... I am a bit new to this, but by down dosing you mean less grounds in the PF right?
    therfore when tamped to the same pressue the puck will not be so close to the shower screen- right? - soggy puck?

    Do you still aim for a 30 second / 60 ml pour?

    and will you get blonding occurring earlier? and do you compensate by going shorter?

    sorry about all the questions, but id love to get a shot that did not require my 1/4 tsp of sugar!!

    Thans

    SC



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